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Chat: David Laurila

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday July 21, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with David Laurila.

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David Laurila of BP Q&A takes a break from asking questions to answer yours in a long overdue chat session.

David Laurila: Greetings from rainy Cambridge, Mass. It's been awhile since I've done one of these, and once again admitting that I'm better at asking questions than answering them, let's get rolling!

goiter6 (MN): How come the Twins haven't signed Julio Lugo yet? Given their sinkhole of production at 2b - Lugo seems like a sizeable upgrade.

David Laurila: Do the Twins really want Julio Lugo to play 2B? From what Iíve seen of Lugo this season, he simply doesnít possess the athleticism anymore. Maybe itís the knee, or maybe itís the aging process, or maybe itĎs both or something else. Regardless, he reminds me a lot of Jose Offerman when he played in Boston -- a speedy free-agent sign who all too quickly became a middle infielder without range who could no longer motor around the base paths. Lacking plus power, Offerman became little more than a singles hitter who did else well. Given that the Red Sox opted to keep Nick Green instead, is that not what Lugo is right now?

paulbellows (Calgary): Pineiro 2009 = Carlos Silva 2005 ???

David Laurila: Well, in 2005, Silva was coming off a good 2004 season; he threw a lot of strikes, induced a lot of double plays, and he had a complete game in which he threw a ridiculously low number of pitches. Piniero, who is a bit older than Silva was in 2005, is coming off a mediocre season and is pitching well, despite his won-lost record. I suppose there are both differences and similarities. Both are having success despite low K rates, which is perhaps the point of the question?

Salmon (Chitown): You think the Cubs can win the NL Central? Thoughts on Randy Wells?

David Laurila: Can? Certainly. Will they? Hmmm.....I'm not sure who to peg as the likely winner. I know that I irked a lot of Cardinals fans at the beginning of the season when I picked them to finish near the bottom of the division. Clearly, they are a better team than I envisioned, and I readily admit to missing something. The Brewers MIGHT have enough, and presumably are exploring Halladay options. Without the Jay Bruce injury, I think the Reds would have contended late into September. So, my final answer....the Cubs probably fall short.

Nick Smith (Allston, MA): What does Casey Kelly have to do to get another shot at playing shortstop?

David Laurila: Well, he kinda sorta has that shot now, doesn't he? Baseball can be unpredictable, so assuming that his future is sure-fire as a pitcher based on, essentially half a season, is...iffy. Kelly has clearly been superb on the mound this season, and will presumably leap near the top of KG's Red Sox top 11 next spring, but it's early. Very early.

tycobb (ga): Is Garrett Jones the greatest hitter of all time?

David Laurila: Better than Ty Cobb?

Yes, on the heels of his 8th home run last night in something like 60 at bats, there is little doubt. But seriously, Jones is a good story and a nice shot in the arm for the Pirates. That said, I have to believe that heís a 2-for-12 slump away from sitting on the bench and watching Lastings Milledge play. As popular as Nyjer Morgan was -- and yes, Morgan can play, too -- the Milledge deal was seemingly a wise one for Neal Huntington. There is still a good chance that Milledge will be a star. Garrett Jones is, in all likelihood, the most recent reincarnation of Chris Shelton.

Matt (Whippleville, NY): Given the struggles of Smoltz and Dice-K, doesn't it make sense for the BoSox to offer Buchholz and Anderson to Toronto for Halladay?

David Laurila: If you're asking if Theo would make that deal, the answer almost has to be yes. Would JP make it? My inclination is to think that he'd ask for more. Halladay is quite possibly the key to wins the World Series this year, so, to state the obvious, he won't come cheap.

nycfan (nyc): BP fanatic here Does Carlos Santana project to be an All Star?

David Laurila: Kevin Goldstein pegged him as a 5-star prospect heading into the season, so thatís probably your answer right there. Taking a quick look at his current Double-A numbers, I see 15 home runs in 280 at bats and an OBP nudging .400. Pairing those with KGs rating, Santana sounds like a potential future All-Star to me.

On a mostly unrelated note, Lastings Milledge was twice thrown out attempting to steal against Pawtucket's Mark Wagner this past weekend. Wagner is nowhere near the prospect Santana is, but he has thrown out a very high percentage of runners this year between AA and AAA. He has a nice future, at least as a defense-first backup.

Ryan Swanzey (Elon, NC): Do you blow it up if you're Cleveland or stand pat and go at a weak division again next year with LaPorta and Rondon coming up? They're the second-worst team in MLB, but middle-of-the-pack looking at Pythag records.

David Laurila: Hey Ryan. Thanks for joining us from Elon.

If I'm Mark Shapiro, I look at my trade options with an eye to the future. While a Rockies-esque winning streak isn't beyond comprehension -- the Indians have talent -- the 2009 campaign seems more likely to be a lost season. Much like the situation across the state in Cincinnati, this is a case where you have a chance to be very good in the not-too-distant future. If you have to swallow hard and move a few nice players to ensure that, you're probably better of.

Joel (GA): Try and sell me on the Sergio Mitre experience.

David Laurila: He has a better chance of joining a reunion than the lead guitarist of the Jimi Hendrix Experience?

Meanwhile, my wife just handed me some coffee -- in a Mahoning Valley Scrappers mug! Great folks there in the office, and press box, of Cleveland's short-season affiliate.

Bill (New Mexico): Any insights into the Khalil Greene situation? Without naming names, have you ever done interviews with players who looked like they were on the verge of a Greene-like meltdown? Is it something that an observer can see coming?

David Laurila: Interesting question. I almost interviewed Greene during spring training, only to opt for Ryan Ludwick and Todd Wellemyer instead -- this was for a BPR show.

I interviewed Milton Bradley last summer, also for a BPR, and while he was very thoughtful and pleasant in that interaction, he obviosly has the reputation of being volatile when provoked -- unfortunately, provoking is a hobby of a small handful of attention-seeking scribes. Hey, ballplayers are people. You have your good days and bad days, and sometimes life deals you a troubling hand that lasts weeks, months, or longer. Fortunately, teams employ people to help out when that happens.

clete6 (Red Sox Nation, unfortunately): While I generally enjoy tour Q&A articles, I sometimes wish you would ask more hard-hitting questions. For example, when John Smoltz says that QuesTec and other innovations are "taking out the individuality of the umpires to call the game the way they see fit", that would seem to require a follow-up question along the lines of "Are you suggesting that the strike zone shouldn't be identical from umpire to umpire, or from pitcher to pitcher?"

David Laurila: Thanks, Clete, both for the praise and the criticism/suggestion. I have received similar feedback from a few others, and I do agree that at times I should be a little more aggressive in my questioning. I think it's important to pick and choose my spots, as that really isn't my style, but you make a vadid point.

JFerg (MD): 2nd half breakout player?

David Laurila: Carlos Pena.

Tim (Tampa): Tampa is just kinda lingering right now and it seems like they'll be stuck if they don't make a move. What's the right move? Arm to replace Sonnastine? Dunn/Johnson-type at DH?

David Laurila: Having picked the Rays to repeat in the AL Beast in our preview artcle, I've been thinking about that myself. My aforementioned opinion of Carlos Pena having a big second half would help address that. Ditto having an arm like Price step it up.

Are the Rays potentially a player for Halladay? Shock waves would ripple through the Bronz and Kenmore Square if that were to somehow happen.

Tom (Seattle): How about this conspiracy theory - Bud Selig was behind the Mark Cuban insider trading charges so he wouldn't have to answer why Cuban would not be considered to buy the Cubs. What a coincidence they were dropped yesterday.

David Laurila: I have no response other than to post the question so that people can mull it over themselves.

SC (Minneapolis): The final call in last night's Twins-As game: worst call ever or just another example of prideful umpires blowing a call and then refusing to get help?

David Laurila: Admittedly, I haven't seen the replay. What exactly happened?

cjbuet (madison, wi): What kind of player do you envision Fowler becoming? He has had a great on base and approach to hitting but he is so tall and lanky, easy to imagine him developing power too. Future all star player?

David Laurila: With a great approach and OBP, he can be a good player without displaying plus power. With plus power, he definitely has All-Star potential. I know that isn't a great answer, but I haven't seen him play and can only go by what KG says.

GrinnellSteve (Iowa): A couple of questions about your interviews. Who's the nicest, genuinely nicest person you've interviewed? Who has been the most surprisingly candid with you? I enjoy your interviews, but sometimes the subject is well-skilled in not revealing anything or offending anyone. Thanks.

David Laurila: Far too many players are well-skilled in not revealing much, which is no big surprise given that they are often schooled to do so. The nicest person? That is difficult to answer. I will say that the most recent Q&A to go up, Cody Ross, is probably on the short list.

The most candid is also a difficult question. Off the top of my head, maybe Shea Hillenbrand?

charles (in charge): When you see a team on pace for record futility like the Nati(o)nals, do you kinda root for them to be 1962 Mets bad, or do you hope they get on a little run somtime and not make it to historically bad?

David Laurila: When the Tigers were threating the 120-loss record a few years back, part of me wanted to see it happen as it would have been historic, and I like history. However, having since talked to a few players on that team about their experience, it's best it didn't happen. They didn't wanted to viewed as being part of a historically bad team.

On a related note, I have a friend who always rooted against the Red Sox -- this was pre-2004 -- becauser the loved the futility story. In a similar vein, I'm sure there are people who root against the Cubs for the same reason.

birkem3 (Dayton, OH): http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=5654271 Cuddyer was tagged out with his foot on home plate.

David Laurila: I'll look at the clip after I get done with the chat.

BTW: I predict that Michael Cuddyer will one day work on ESPN. Frankly, he could start tomorrow and be better than John Kruk -- and thatisn't necessarily a dig against Kruk. Cuddyer is a funny, well-spoken dude.

GrinnellSteve (Iowa): Your Cody Ross piece was what prompted me to ask. I think it was Christina who suggested my White Sox go after him. After reading your interview I thought there was a guy I could really pull for.

David Laurila: I hear you, because I'm not scared to admit that I root for good people. That said, a team full of .330/.450/.540 A-Holes is prefereable to a team full of .275/.350/450 Cody Ross's if the goal is to attend a World Series parade.

Kyle (Chicago): Yeah, there are people who root against the Cubs - shirtless, toothless, white trash meth addicts who enjoy charging the field because they think they got the stink eye from the first base coach...they are called White Sox fans.

David Laurila: I'm posting this one because a good South Side vs North Side brawl going will help liven up a Tuesday.

Hal (Chicago): While, I won't touch the conspiracy theory, isn't it pretty obvious Selig has a strong affiliation to Milwaukee? Isn't that really bad, especially for NL Central teams?

David Laurila: Sure, but everybody has to come from somewhere. Obviously, there is the little ownership issue involved, but is there really any strong evidence that Selig has made biased decisions in this regard? Playing devil's advocate, he could one day be replaced by someone who is a lifelong Astros fan who will cunningly do everything in his power to see a championship in Houston.

Jim (Tucson): David, You've interviewed a variety of guys, but I want to know what you've learned through your interviews particularly about scouting, and if you could give me any pointers from your conversations on ways I could learn about scouting. Thanks

David Laurila: What I've learned from talking to scouts, and even non scouts, is that I could never be a scout. It really is an art. Not that you couldn't do it, certainly; many people can, and some do it very well.

As for ways you can learn about scouting...well, outside of going to scout school, one of the better options might be to go out of your way to talk to a few scouts. From my experience, most of them are quite approachable.

Tim (Tampa): RE: Halladay to Tampa thoughts: He DOES live in the Tampa Bay area, and considering that Tampa has the prospects, it's not too out of line that he'd pitch for them, although, as with other teams, the price would have to be right.

David Laurila: Roy Halladay for David Price? What do you think, Andrew? Hey, I think you just squirmed in that chair a little...

amr2002 (philly): so ryan howard is the fastest ever to 200 hr. but he's also 29. is it really a surprise that a great power hitter who basically started playing in his prime is also way faster to 200 than anyone in history?

David Laurila: This answer is kind of a punt, because I don't know if I can address it intelligently on the fly, but the question itself is interesting. And suppose Howard had come up a year or two earlier -- would he have proven himself ready? What about someone like Wade Boggs?

Dan (Princeton): Do the Tigers have any chance in the Halladay sweepstakes? Matt Swartz's piece yesterday pegged them as the team with the greatest financial incentive to sign him. Who would they have to give un in addition to Porcello, and do you think it would be a good move?

David Laurila: First, I'm going to assume that Princeton is the University, not the village in Michigan?

I'd be pretty surprised if the Tigers were able to deal for Halladay. There really isn't anything in their farm system that the Jays would want, is there? I mean, having an Iorg in Toronto again would be nice, but that probably goes back to the nice gusy versus productive players thing. Unfortunately, the Tigers traded away their prospects in the Cabreara, Renteria, etc deals. It's unfortunate that they don't Rangers-quality talent in the system, because Verlander/Halladay in a playoff series would be scary, kind of Lolich/McLain.

Dennis (California): Thanks for the chat and your great work. Have you interviewed Mike Stanton, the Marlins OF prospect, yet? I could have sworn I read an interview you did with him on BP but can't find any trace of it, so it must be one of the less pleasant effects of entering my 40s. Anyway, if you were the Angels, would you trade one of your current SPs like Weaver or Saunders as well as Brandon Wood in a deal for Roy Halladay? I suspect that's what the Jays are holding out for.

David Laurila: Nope, there hasn't been a Stanton interview yet. I'd love to do one, though.

Ah yes, Brandon Wood. The man-who-would-hit-30-bombs-at-the shortstop-position, locked in purgatory. I don't think there is any way the Jays deal Halladay for a Saunders/Wood package. They could use both, but they'd want more.

rcarter (Newark): Before the season, conventional wisdom said that Andruw Jones was washed up as a hitter but might have some use as a defensive replacement. The Rangers seem to have reached the opposite conclusion by usually DHing him. He's not super-fragile so why not put him in t he field?

David Laurila: I suppose it's partly a question of what he has left defensively. This isn't the in-his-prime Andruw Jones. As for what he has done with the bat, kudos to Rudy Jaramillo. Is there anyone who does a better job with hitters?

tcogle (3rd place): Netfali Feliz will be pitching for the Texas Rangers on ______

David Laurila: August 5.

Eli (Brooklyn): Is it something other than Jeff Nelson withdrawal that makes Yankee fans/front office think that the 8th inning is way more valuable than innings 1-6?

David Laurila: A bullpen usage question. Calling Joe Sheehan. Come in, Joe Sheehan...

Tom (Houston, TX): David, the Astros keep staying close in the Central with Oswalt really heating up. However, a part of me thinks that this is just another season of their kamikaze missions.. always win 77 to 85 games, never more, never less, field an incredibly old team and never build up a barren farm system. Your thoughts?

David Laurila: Tom, I'm not sure that I can do more than echo what multiple BP authors have been writing for the past two seasons. Given that we're talking NL Central, the Astros can indeed continue to stay close, but other than that, they simply aren't very good and would be better served by blowing it up and building for the future.

Once upon a time, the Expos owner cared little about the future -- he was on his way out soon and wanted to win now -- which helped pave the way for Pedro Martinez to Boston. That's apples to oranges as far as the Astreos go, but still...if you're mediocre, aspire to become great, not aspire to remain mediocre or become slightly better than mediocre.

TGisriel (Baltimore): Will the O's do a third straight late season dive, or will the new acquisitions hold up better in September?

David Laurila: Does. It. Really. Matter? This is a team with a chance to become very, very competitive as soon as 2011. Whether you finish third, fourt or fifth in 2009 means little. Sure, the beer tastes a little better in the bleachers when you're winning a few extra games, but it will taste MUCH better when Tillman and Matusz are logging W's and Wieters and Jones are making the All-Star Game a regular visit.

scott (chicago): are you really *not* going to post my cubs rebuttal? weak sauce, david. can't please one fan base and ignore another.

David Laurila: Hah! There are roughly a dozen such rebuttals in the queue, some of which are quite...uh, colorful. Hey, sorry for inciting a cross-town riot. Good times.

makewayhomer (Inman Square): Does the Boston area lead the nation in BP writers? You, Marc N, and um...probably someone else?

David Laurila: Just the two of us, I think. There are more in New York in Chicago. Plus, I'm actually a Michigander who happens to have found himself living here. I'm too Midwestern polite to be a true Bostonian.

David Vines (NYC): Do the Cardinals have what it takes to get Halladay? I've got to think Brett Wallace is expendable, but while guys like Jason Motte and Jess Todd are nice pieces, I get the feeling they don't have the kind of starting pitching required to get the deal done. Am I wrong about that?

David Laurila: Tons of Halladay-trade scenarios in here.

Two Sundays ago I was on Ken Broo's fine sports show on WLW in Cincinnati -- Ken is a BP fan who knows his stuff -- and Halladay came up. I opined that the Cardinals were a possible destination for him, and that if that happened,it almost ensured the division. While teams like the Indians, Astros and Bruce-less Reds, are better served looking to the future, St. Louis may seriously want to consider such a deal. Wallace has a damn bright future, though.

TGisriel (Baltimore): What interviews do yuo enjoy doing the most:players, scouts or managment?

David Laurila: It really boils down to the personality of the individual, to be honest.

This is a good time to plug a few upcoming Prospectus Q&As. In the near future, you'll hear from John Russell, Lastings Milledge, and David DeJesus. There are also a few others in the works, and, as always, suggestions and requests are welcome.

LindInMoskva (DC): Is there possibly a worse baseball experience than going to a Nationals game? Expensive parking, 23 different pricing levels for seats, Usher Nazis won't allow anyone in their "house" without checking tickets, a horrible team, and no cheap or good eats. I tried catching the last 3 innings of a game last month on my way home and there were no open ticket windows and they won't let you in without a ticket. Why doesn't a team sell cheap tickets to sell out the stadium, and then gradually raise prices until profit is maximized? I drive by everyday on the way to work but I would rather go to Baltimore.

David Laurila: I can't speak to the Nationals experience, as I've not yet attended a game there, but I'll close by plugging the upcoming national SABR convention, which will be held in D.C. at the end of the month. This is open to anyone and everyone, and there are few better places to get together with knowledgeable baseball fans from all over the country. Christina Kahrl will be one of the future speakers, as will Stan Kasten and many others. Check out the SABR website for full details.

David Laurila: Thanks for coming by for the chat. Sorry I couldn't get to all of the questions, and I hope that I least held my own here. Cheers!


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